"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Austria's Experiment with Islam - How Far Will It Go?

‘We don't need them’: Austrian FM wants to end Islamic kindergartens to boost integration

© Leonhard Foeger / Reuters

Shutting down Islamic kindergartens where children have little or no command of German would be an efficient way to ensure the integration of migrants, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said.

The comment was made at a public event set up by Kurier newspaper.

“Of course, we don’t need them. There should be no Islamic kindergartens,” Kurz said when asked whether he would agree to completely get rid of such facilities.

According to the foreign minister, proficiency in German must become a gateway to Austrian society. 

Immigrant children and others “who have little or no command of German” would have to attend kindergarten one year longer than their Austrian peers, he said. 

“Quality criteria” for childcare workers should also be introduced to improve the standards of language proficiency.

Consequently, many Arab or Chechen kindergartens will fail to meet the requirements for state benefits and will be left with no choice but to close, Kurz said, adding, “This is the easiest way in terms of the law.”

In the meantime, the government “does very much” to improve integration efforts, Kurz said. He added, however, that success “depends very much on the number of those [who should be] integrated.”

Controversy regarding Muslim kindergartens was recently stirred when a study by Austrian-Turkish Professor Ednan Aslan found more than 10,000 children aged from two to six attend around 150 Muslim preschools in Vienna which teach the Koran and pave the way for “parallel societies,” according to AFP.

“Parents are sending their kids to establishments that ensure they are in a Muslim setting and learn a few suras (chapters from the Koran),” Aslan, who researches Islamic education at Vienna University, told AFP.

“But they are unaware that they are shutting them off from a multicultural society,” the scholar said. According to his estimates, up to a quarter of Islamic kindergartens were being sponsored or supported by ultraconservative Salafist groups or organizations.

The study, published last year, resonated widely in the community, but some rejected the findings citing the unreliability of Aslan’s methodology. Biber, a local magazine, dispatched an undercover reporter who posed as a Muslim mother looking for a place for her son at an Islamic kindergarten.

She found no evidence of Aslan's claims that Islamic preschools were nurturing future Salafists, but acknowledged many of those kindergartens were cutting off or isolating children from mainstream society. There were also questions about the “openness” of some staff and their command of German.

Kurz, the youngest foreign minister in the EU at the time of his swearing-in back in 2013, has previously advocated putting more curbs on immigration. In March, he proposed the opening of refugee centers outside the European Union, suggesting the Republic of Georgia and countries of the Western Balkans as possible locations.

Last year, he also made some incendiary remarks on refugees being rescued on their way across the Mediterranean, saying a rescue from a boat in distress should be “no ticket to Europe.”

Refugees who are rescued from boats in the Mediterranean Sea “must be returned immediately, ideally to their country of origin,” Kurz vowed at the time. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

France’s Macron Sees No ‘Legitimate Successor’ to Assad, Declares Terrorism a Common Enemy in Syria

I like this guy more every day; he's smart and
doesn't seem all tied up in political baggage

French President Emmanuel Macron © Julien de Rosa / Reuters

There is currently no viable alternative to Bashar Assad to prevent Syria from turning into a failed state, the new French president has said, departing from his predecessor’s position that the Syrian leader must be toppled to stabilize the war-torn country.

“The new perspective that I have had on this subject is that I have not stated that Bashar al-Assad’s departure is a pre-condition for everything because nobody has shown me a legitimate successor,” Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with eight European newspapers.

The new approach is seen as a stark departure from the political discourse of former French President Francois Hollande, who openly advocated for regime change in Syria. Under Hollande’s leadership, France was ready to support the US to strike Damascus in the autumn of 2013, until Moscow stepped in to de-escalate tensions while also ensuring the liquidation of the Syrian chemical stockpile.

“Assad is the origin of this problem, and cannot be part of the solution,” Hollande told the UN General Assembly in 2015. 

Macron says French policy towards Syria is now more aligned with Russian objectives in the country. “My lines are clear: Firstly, a complete fight against all the terrorist groups. They are our enemies,” he said. “We need everybody’s cooperation, especially Russia, to eradicate them.”

Macron said he will not allow US “neo-conservatism” to seep into France, and that the focus of French policy will be aimed at achieving “stability” in Syria, rather than getting dragged into a Libya-style conflict.

“What was the outcome of these interventions? Failed states in which terrorist groups flourished. I do not want that in Syria,” the French leader emphasized.

While adopting a more flexible approach to the Syrian conflict, Macron warned of red lines beyond which Paris would be ready to seek direct military intervention against Damascus.

“If it is proven that chemical weapons are used on the ground and we can trace their provenance,” Macron said France will conduct unilateral strikes “to destroy the stocks of identified chemical weapons.”

“France will, therefore, be completely aligned with the United States on this,” Macron added, referring to the unilateral American strike on Shayrat Air Base in April – the US’ response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Idlib that was swiftly pinned on Damascus.

However, the 39-year-old French leader noted that he shares “convergent views” with Russian President Vladimir Putin who is “obsessed” with “fighting terrorism and avoiding a failed state” in Syria.

“I respect Vladimir Putin. I had a constructive exchange with him. We have real disagreements, on Ukraine in particular, but he has seen my position,” Macron said. He welcomed constructive dialogue with Moscow and said he is optimistic about cooperation between the two countries.

The French president made clear that France’s domestic security is directly linked to the ongoing war in Syria, as recent terrorist attacks in France, which killed over 230 people, were fueled by IS ideology which flourished amid the ongoing armed conflict.

“My deep conviction is that there needs to be a diplomatic and political roadmap. We won’t solve the question only with military force. That is a collective error we have made,” he said, reiterating Moscow’s long-standing policy towards Syria since the start of the conflict in 2011.

Will Romania Ever Find an Effective Government That is Not Corrupt?

Romanian prime minister removed in no-confidence vote
By Ed Adamczyk 

Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu was removed from office by his own party Wednesday
in a no-confidence vote by Parliament. File photo by Robert Ghement/EPA

UPI -- Romania's Parliament ousted the country's prime minister Wednesday in a no-confidence vote, six months after he assumed office.

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu's left-wing Social Democrat Party accused him of failing to undertake economic reforms, and Parliament voted him out in a censure motion. The vote was 241-10.

Wow! That's not even close!

The action is a first in Romanian politics, and came after a feud between Grindeanu and party chief Liviu Dragnea that angered some members of Parliament.

Grindeanu's party returned to power in November on promises to reduce government corruption. Demonstrations across the country came within weeks after a decree, seen as weakening anti-corruption measures, was ordered. Although the decree was rescinded after the protests and warnings from the European Union against "backtracking," the crisis debilitated the government and damaged the relationship between Grindeanu and Dragnea.

Dragnea is ineligible for the prime minister's position because he was convicted of vote rigging. He also faces charges of abuse of office.

Romania has had 13 prime minsters since it left the influence of the Soviet Union in 1990.

A spokeswoman for President Klaus Iohannis said he will meet with leaders of Romania's political parties next week to choose Grindeanu's replacement, as well as a new slate of Cabinet members.

Germany's Experiment with Islam Takes Another Step Forward

While some of us who watch world events see the extraordinary migration of Muslims into Europe in the last couple years as being the first steps in the Islamization of the continent, Europeans, many of them, mostly liberals, believe European culture is strong enough to endure Islam. Germans, for instance, believe that Muslims will fit into German society in time.

This new mosque is probably seen as confirmation that they are correct. Their priorities seem to be equality and living together in harmony, which is laudable, but has little to do with Islam. That is born out by the venom and threats that have poured out upon the mosques leaders. I expect the mosque and it's leaders will be big targets for violence, not from neo-Nazis, but from traditional Muslims not willing to be westernized.

‘Islamist side’ issues death threats,
Berlin ‘liberal mosque’ co-founder says

Men and women pray together at the new liberal Ibn-Rushd-Goethe-Mosque in Berlin, Germany, 
© Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters

A co-founder of the first “liberal mosque,” which opened in the German capital last week, has faced intimidation, including death threats, she told RT Deutsch.

“Death threats, and other threats… are partly coming from the Islamist side,” Seyran Ates said. She is one of the seven founders of the unusual prayer site, which accepts everyone except those wearing a full face veil, such as a niqab or burka.

Ates, however, who is a women’s rights activist and lawyer, stated that the threats should not stop people’s fight for their values.

“As a civil society, we cannot let ourselves be guided by those who threaten us and who forbid us to do something, [threatening] to otherwise take our lives. It is only when we fight together against this hatred that we can change something.”

Earlier, the co-founder said that even before opening the mosque, she had already received some “very violent and obscene” threats. She even requested police protection at last week’s opening.

Thousands of people have reacted to Ates’ activities on Facebook, as a DW Arabic report about her gained more than a million views within just four days and received almost 16,000 comments. A large portion of the comments condemned the idea of the mosque.

“This is not the religion of our prophet,” one comment under the video reads.

“Is this a mosque or a club? A woman who is showing her breasts during praying? And who is serving as an example for all liberal Muslims and [as a female] Imam? Absurd,” another person said.

I think the term 'showing her breasts' might have a different connotation in Islam than elsewhere in the world. I expect the woman was fully clothed but the fact that she had breasts was not hidden in the Islamic tradition of women being invisible because men cannot control themselves otherwise.

Muslims need a culture to speak fearlessly to each other, another founder of the mosque and Islamic scholar, Abdel-Hakim Ourghi, told RT Deutsch earlier.

He said that the founders want people of all religions to live together peacefully. Although this path is difficult, it is only a matter of time, he added.

“We want our kids – both from the monotheistic religions, as well as children of atheists – to finally live in peace together… And I believe that it is a question of time. It is not an easy path, it is something new and I believe it is a challenge for the conservatives in Germany, the so-called established umbrella organizations,” Abdel-Hakim Ourghi said in an interview.

He added that Muslims need a culture in which they can peacefully talk to each other regardless of the branches of Islam they are representing.

The first mosque in Germany offering a place of worship to believers of all Muslim denominations, giving equal rights to male and female worshippers, and friendly to the LGBT community, opened on June 17 in the heart of Berlin.

Entering in niqabs and burkas, which is obligatory for women according to Muslim rules, is prohibited there.

I'm curious to know who funded the building of the mosque? It certainly wasn't Saudi Arabia.

Ibn-Rushd-Goethe-Mosque, Berlin

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Justice Ministry to Appeal ECHR Ruling on Russian ‘Gay Propaganda Law’

The European Court of Human Rights - neo-liberal instrument
for the promotion of LGBTQI rights?

© Bogdan Cristel / Reuters

The Russian Justice Ministry has announced plans to appeal a ruling that found Russia’s ban on the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors discriminatory and awarded damages to several activists previously convicted under the act.

According to the statement published on the ministry’s website on Tuesday, the ban does not contradict international practices and the sole purpose of the law was to protect children’s morals and health.

The statement was released soon after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that the law, often described in the mass media as a ‘gay propaganda ban’, was discriminatory and encouraged homophobia. The court took the side of three Russian activists who were convicted in Russia for violating the ban between 2009 and 2012, and ordered the Russian state to pay compensation for damages.

One of the main sponsors of the original Russian bill, State Duma MP Vitaly Milonov (United Russia) called the ECHR ruling a “propaganda stunt” and a “bludgeon” used by neo-liberals to destroy their opponents.

“This court became an information propaganda dump quite some time ago and everyone should stop calling it a court. Because a court is something independent and important,” Milonov told RT.

“The ECHR [European Court of Human Rights] is nothing more than a branch of the propaganda machine servicing the European neoliberal circles. It has already stopped protecting the human rights and liberties, now they use it as a bludgeon for making threats,” he added.

The lawmaker also said that the ruling can be easily ignored in Russia.

The head of the Upper House committee for constitutional law, Senator Andrey Klishas, said on Tuesday that in his view, the Justice Ministry should have sent an enquiry to the Constitutional Court to check whether the potential execution of the ECHR ruling is in line with the Russian Constitution.

According to the senator’s press service, he believes that following the ECHR orders could violate the constitution, which states that the exercising of one’s rights must not infringe upon the rights and freedoms of others, as well as banning public promotion of social, racial, ethnic, or religious hatred.

“The current legislation matches public morals as they are traditionally understood in Russian society. As any legislative solution to a public request lies within the powers of the national legislative bodies, the senator’s opinion is that European entities should abstain from interfering in the internal affairs of our state,” the press service’s statement reads, as quoted by Interfax.

In 2013, Russia introduced the law banning any promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to persons under 18. Before being approved nationwide, the law had been passed at a municipal level in the city of St. Petersburg.

The law ordered fines for breaches of the ban, including in the media, on the internet and via viral advertisements. Holding LGBT rallies was also prohibited as well as distribution of information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual concepts in children, describing such relations as attractive, promoting a distorted understanding of a social equality between traditional and non-traditional relations, and also unwanted solicitation of information that could provoke interest in such relations.

In late 2015, two Communist Party lawmakers proposed an additional ban on any public demonstration of “non-traditional” sexual orientation, however this bill has not been passed by the parliament.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Police Identify Finsbury Park Mosque Suspect as 47yo Darren Osborne

© RT

Police have named the man suspected of using a van to attack worshipers at a London mosque as 47-year-old Darren Osborne, a father-of-four from Cardiff, Wales.

Osborne's neighbor, 52-year-old Dave Ashford, told the Guardian he was shocked to discover that Osborne was suspected of being behind the attack.

“Someone called me and said it was him and I said ‘It can’t be’. Then I saw the picture on the news and said, 'it’s him," he said.

“A 47-year-old man was arrested for attempted murder and taken to a south London police station where he remains in custody. He has further been arrested for the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism including murder and attempted murder,” a statement from the Metropolitan police says.

The police statement does not mention Osborne by name.

Osborne's family is believed to be based in Weston-super-Mare, England.

One person died and 10 others were injured in the incident, which British Prime Minister Theresa May has called "sickening," and London's mayor has described as a "horrific terrorist attack."

The attack took place after worshipers had finished prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. All of the victims were Muslim, according to police.

It is not clear whether the person who died, died because of the vehicle assault or not. People were administering first aid to one man before the incident and it is not known whether it was that person who died, or whether the vehicle assault contributed to his death. 

There are lots of questions to be answered in this horrible incident, but it certainly appears to have been an attack on Muslims by a white man. Was he influenced by right-wing extremists? Was he acting alone and spontaneously? Was he affected by drugs? 

Unlike Muslim terrorists who see themselves as martyrs and assume they will be going to Paradise where 72 virgins await them, there is no reward for non-Muslims to kill Muslims. Hopefully, police will be able to determine what his motivation was. 

Weston-super-Mare, across Bristol Channel from Cardiff

Are Muslims Blowing Another Chance to Prove They Are a Religion of Peace?

Wahhabists, like all Salafists work toward global domination with Sharia Law. They may denounce terrorism but they admire what terrorists accomplish, especially in destabilizing western society.

As in Cologne on the weekend, Lebanese Muslims have a chance to stand up against extremism, but as in Cologne, they have failed miserably to make any statement other than support.

Lebanese activists aim to block ‘extremist’ preacher Zakir Naik 

Activists want to stop preacher Zakir Naik from coming to Lebanon © Adnan Abidi / Reuters

Activists in Lebanon have launched a campaign to ban Indian preacher Zakir Naik from entering the country, saying his extremist views do not belong in Lebanon.

Naik, who is believed to have become a Saudi citizen last month, is wanted for questioning in India in connection with his alleged role in inspiring one of the 2016 Dhaka terrorist attackers, and over money laundering allegations, which he denies.

The Salafist Islamic preacher and televangelist has over 16 million Facebook followers, while the Peace TV channel he founded is said to reach 100 million viewers.

Lebanese activists have threatened legal action, saying Naik’s views may be in violation of laws regarding sectarian incitement. A petition calling for Naik to be banned from entering Lebanon was started on Avaaz, however, it has only gathered a little over 100 signatures.

“Zakir Naik is an extremist preacher known to spread hate speech that attacks non-Muslims and moderate Muslims alike, and he has been banned from entering many countries,” lawyer and activist Khaled Merheb told The New Arab.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May denied Naik’s entry to the UK in 2010 as Home Secretary, citing his extreme views. “Numerous comments made by Dr Naik are evidence to me of his unacceptable behavior,” May said at the time.

Naik maintains that his comments have been taken out of context, and that he has condemned Islamic State and political and religious extremism. He has referred to ISIS as the “anti-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria."

In the past, Naik said LGBT people are suffering from a mental problem as a result of watching pornographic moves, and that chopping off thieves’ hands is not a bad thing. He also reportedly said “If bin Laden is fighting enemies of Islam, I am for him,” and said 9/11 was an “inside job.”

In 2015, Saudi Arabia awarded him the ‘Service to Islam’ prize, calling him “one of the most renowned non-Arabic-speaking promulgators of Islam.”